It was Kin's birthday so we decided to try something different. I suggested Paprika Hussar after reading a good review in The Age. Paprika Hussar is on Glenferrie Road and is a Hungarian restaurant.
On a very cold Saturday night, we entered into this warm restaurant with these plates and costumes hung on the wall. The restaurant is a narrow place, with a bar near the entrance and a staircase separating the front half of the restaurant from the back half. The front half is a lot brighter whereas the back half has softer lighting. Both areas are fairly noisy with people chatting. Upon going to the toilet, I go past the kitchen area, which is a tiny kitchen.
To start, were served these round bread with a spread that contained paprika and some other herbs. It tasted ok and tasted a bit like salmon dip from the supermarket. We got two entrees, the first was the Hortobagyi Pancakes, which was actually a crepe stuffed with chicken and in a sauce. The crepe was ok but I found it a bit bland. Jo did like the sauce though and finished it all.
The other entree was the Hungarian Tasting Platter, with the meats quite nice. The sour vegetables were very nice and to my liking. However, the meats did just taste like those from the supermarket and didn't seem to be worth the $11 for the dish.
We decided to get mains to share, with each person picking one. I chose the Venison Ragout, which was very tender. The sauce was like a gravy type thing but was a bit bland. The egg dumplings were these little drops of pasta type thing and the texture was good.
Kin chose the Fricasse of Transylvanian Tokany, which was strips of beef on top of polenta stacks. I don't like polenta and the mushy feel wasn't to my liking. The beef strips were full of flavour and was agreed by all as the best mains of the night.
Jo chose the Beef Goulash, which we were all eagerly awaiting. Jo once shared a house with a Hungarian fellow student who cooked the best goulash she said, so her expectations were high. The goulash was ok, with the meat tender but again lacking flavour.
Phuong chose the Chicken Paprika. This dish was the most boring of all. The meat again was tender, but the whole dish didn't have any flavour at all. It ended up not being fully eaten, with everyone pushing it around and Phuong trying to sell it as much as she could and telling everyone to eat some.
Paul chose the Barramundi Letcho, which tasted very much like fish with a sweet and sour sauce at a Chinese restaurant. It wasn't particularly to my liking as I'm not a fan of fish, and definitely not a fan of sweet and sour fish. It is very rare that I really like a fish dish, but it does occasionally happen, like the fish at Isthmus of Kra.
For side dishes, we got more Dill Gherkins and Capsicum stuffed with Cabbage. The gherkins were good but the cabbage in the capsicum was a bit too sour.
Dessert consisted of Cherry Strudel, which wasn't bad. The pastry was crispy and there was a lot of cherries in it.
The Hungarian Sponge Cake was supposedly like Tiramisu, with layers of sponge with a cream based thing in the middle. It was very good, with the sponge soft and the cream thing just the right sweetness.
My favourite dessert was the Pancakes with Rum, Raisins and Nuts, served flaming. It arrived spectacularly at the table all flaming, but I missed the shot since I had the flash on the camera. The nuttiness of the pancake went well with the Rum and chocolate sauce.
After dessert, Kin cut his cake that Fung (when Phuong went to buy the cake, the assistant asked her name, which she said and then he proceeded to mispell) had bought. We sang Happy Birthday to him and then stuffed ourselves some more with cake.
Thoughtout the night, we were drinking the Cabernet Sauvignon from Scotchmans Hill that I had bought from the Bellarine Peninsula trip and the Oakridge Chardonnay that Kin had bought from the Yarra Valley trip. Both wines were very good indeed. Then at the end of the meal, the waiter arrives with some house wine for free for us to try. The way he served it was great though, with this long tube thing where he poured the wine into glasses from a distance. And as he said "When there is a birthday boy, we don't use a glass for him and instead do this", which you can see in the photo below. The wine tasted really different and Jo thought that it contained asparagus. I thought that it had cabbage in it. Since we were curious, we asked the waiter, who explained it was just a Pinot Grigio grown in Hungary and that was all that was in it. However, due to the grapes growing near water, apparently the reflection of the sun off the water onto the grapes gives them a different flavour.
The service started off a bit rusty but got better throughout the night. It was probably because it was so busy when we got there at the start, but we were seated and despite clearly having wine, the waitress didn't offer an ice bucket or to help us pour it. However, as the night wore on, we were given ice water just as we needed it without asking. The plates were cleared efficiently without rushing us. The waiter was cordial and joked with us, telling me to prepare the camera for the pouring of the wine into Kin's mouth after I had missed the flaming pancakes despite his best efforts to relight it.
The atmosphere in there is good, with a cosy sense and conversation easily heard but still being a buzz around the place. The food is comforting food perfect for a cold wintery day, but did seem to lack flavour.
Overall Rating: 13/20, Food is comforting but needs more flavour. I gave an extra point for the service.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.